Archive for Sunday, October 20, 2002

Severe case of maggots could result in shock

Several species begin feeding on pet’s tissue

October 20, 2002


I read your column regularly and would like you to address maggot infestations in older animals. I had an outdoor collie who was elderly. One day he couldn't get up, and when I lifted his tail his anal area was bright red. I got him into the car and to the vet just in time to save his life.

Flies had laid eggs in the area on his back above his tail. He had thick hair, so I had no way of knowing. He had always had trouble with flies biting his ears, but I never dreamed they would literally eat him alive. What can be done when this happens?

Maggots are the larvae of various flies. Several species of flies are attracted to wet areas such as grass bedding or open wounds. The flies lay their eggs in the wet bedding or tissue. The eggs hatch shortly after being laid by the flies and turn into maggots.

If the maggots develop in your pet's open wound, they begin feeding on the pet's tissue and actually enlarge the wound. In mild cases, there is no great danger to the pet other than the fact that the wound enlarges and may become infected.

In severe cases, a large amount of the pet's tissue is destroyed and shock can develop. Treatment involves removal of the maggots and thorough cleansing of the wound.

Prevention is obviously best. Always check your pet for open wounds and have them treated. Remove matted hair that can hold in moisture and attract flies. If your pet sleeps outdoors, remove any wet straw bedding.

If flies are a problem, use proper pest control to kill them.

I have a young Boston terrier named Buster that has a problem with snorting. I have heard that snorting is common in brachycephalic dogs such as Buster. One of my friends has told me that surgery might be needed to help correct Buster's problem. When is surgery needed for this problem? Buster is still quite young only 5 months old.

Brachycephalic dogs (those with the pushed-in faces) are more prone to several problems than normal-nosed breeds. These problems include snoring, difficulty breathing, eye problems and brain cancer.

In most pets, the snoring or snorting do not require surgery. You may, however, choose to have the pet sleep somewhere other than your room.

Surgery is needed if the snoring or snorting is constant and loud or if there is breathing difficulty.

Shawn P. Messonnier, author of the "Natural Health Bible for Dogs & Cats" (Prima, $24.95) is a veterinarian and pet care advocate.

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